Physical training is beneficial and should be included in the comprehensive management of all patients with COPD independently of disease severity. Different rehabilitative strategies and training modalities have been proposed to optimize exercise tolerance. Interval exercise training has been used as an effective alternative modality to continuous exercise in patients with moderate and severe COPD.Although in healthy elderly individuals and patients with chronic heart failure there is evidence that this training modality is superior to continuous exercise in terms of physiological training effects, in patients with COPD, there is not such evidence. Nevertheless, in patients with COPD application of interval training has been shown to be equally effective to continuous exercise as it induces equivalent physiological training effects but with less symptoms of dyspnea and leg discomfort during training.The main purpose of this review is to summarize previous studies of the effectiveness of interval training in COPD and also to provide arguments in support of the application of interval training to overcome the respiratory and peripheral muscle limiting factors of exercise capacity. To this end we make recommendations on how best to implement interval training in the COPD population in the rehabilitation setting so as to maximize training effects.
Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exercise tolerance; interval exercise training; pulmonary rehabilitation.